Hughes duo chase Bobbyjo glory
Last year's winner Vic Venturi and Siegemaster give trainer Dessie Hughes a strong hand in the At The Races Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on Tuesday.
Both horses are suited by the race conditions and Hughes is using the Grade Two contest as a stepping-stone for National targets.
Vic Venturi is in line for a second crack at the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree in April, while Thyestes Chase victor Siegemaster is being aimed at the Powers Whiskey Irish National at Fairyhouse the same month.
"I'm expecting another good run from Vic Venturi before he goes to Aintree. He should run very well and it should leave him nearly right," said the County Kildare trainer.
"He performed very well in the Bobbyjo last year and he has a very good chance this time.
"Vic Venturi is very unlikely to run after that before the English National unless we find out after tomorrow that he does need another run.
"If he performed well he probably wouldn't need another one. He didn't have one last year and he run a good race and was going well when he was brought down in the National.
"Siegemaster has crept up the handicap so these kind of races are better for him now than giving away a lot of weight.
"He's going to take his chance and, all being well, he'll go for the Irish National."
Oscar Time is also Aintree-bound and his trainer Martin Lynch is looking for a good run, despite the toughness of the opposition.
Last year's Irish National runner-up is having his first run over bigger obstacles since then after two spins over hurdles this term.
"It looks a competitive affair, the ground will be very heavy, but hopefully we'll give a good account of ourselves," said the County Westmeath trainer.
"He's back over fences tomorrow and Aintree is the big day. It will probably be his last run before then but it will depend on how he gets on tomorrow.
"It's a perfect stepping-stone."